A Travellerspoint blog

Day 5

School and Pottery

sunny
View Summer 2016 on sarahtravel12's travel map.

I thought I might be dying this morning…yesterday evening into the night and into this morning I have had an awful cough that will not go away and is becoming painful…uggg sickness…. Anyway, this morning I had class at 9:30 again. Below is a view of the walk I take to school each day:
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Today in class we learned about Préterio Perfecto. A form of past tense (that is not used in Mexico so it was new to me). In fact, there are many differences with the Spanish here compared to the Spanish in Mexico. One of the big things being that “tύ” is an accepted form whereas in Mexico and South America it is considered extremely rude to use that and you must instead use “usted”. Since I learned there first I keep using usted instead and my host family keeps saying “No no no, that’s so formal! Don’t use that!” The past tense concept we learned about in class was easy enough to learn, and given unlimited time and a piece of paper and pencil, I could get it right every time…however, trying to speak using it at a normal speed (even at a turtle speed) is not easy! Hopefully with practice it will get easier. After the break we learned about how to talk about where we had been and what we had eaten and just practiced talking a lot. Then we talked about accents phonetically. Class is never very hard, but I do feel like I am learning a lot which is great!
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After class it was back home for comeda and rest time. After a delicious meal and short rest, it was off to the afternoon activity again. Today was a pottery making activity! We all met at the school and walked to the pottery place which was about a 20-minute walk. Once there we met the guy who helped us make our pottery (Mario). Mario had a very funny and outgoing personality. We all started by softening the clay by kneading it then we grabbed pieces and began to make the base of our pots by coiling pieces into a circle and then wrapping snake like pieces’ around the base and up to form a pot like structure. Then we all took turns on the “spinny wheely thing” (I know…don’t be too jealous of my vocabulary: P) and shaped our pots. This was the part where I struggled…haha and Mario made fun of me for the next two hours for it lol. Anyway, I made 2 things, a deformed…abstract piece of art (pot type thing if you squint) and a plate…thing…its flatish… Yeah, I shouldn’t go into pottery making as a profession! But, hey I had a really great time.
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They will go into the oven this week, and then next week we will go back and paint them I believe.
After pottery we all walked closer to the school and stopped for tapas again. This time we took turns shopping while some of the others sat at the table and ate/drank lol. Shopping was fun! Then we went to a pizza place lol.
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So much food! After I think they went to get pasties and ice cream, but I went home. At dinner tonight I had a thrilling conversation with my host parents about the medical system in Spain. Everything is free…from a little cold to a heart transplant…no medical insurance…everything (besides some dental work) is payed for by the government. Also, if you have good grades, medical school is totally free. If you don’t have good grades, it is 2000 euro per year. Like what!?!? Guess where I am moving??? JK…but it’s crazy and they said the system actually works really well. Also, lol yes all of that information and more was gathered through a conversation in Spanish! Whooo Sarah! You go girl!!! (Can you tell I’m proud of myself?) :D
Learning a lot and loving every second of it!

Highlight of the Day: Failing miserably at making pottery but having a blast while doing it! “Sarah! You just looked in my direction and my pot got ruined!” -everyone in the room. LOL…I was soooo bad but it was soooo fun! :)
Food:
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Posted by sarahtravel12 05:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 4

School/Tennis

sunny
View Summer 2016 on sarahtravel12's travel map.

This morning I was up at 8:30 again. This looks like that’s time I’ll be getting up the rest of my time here which isn’t too bad if I can get myself out of the habit of going to bed at 3:00am or later lol. It is strange because it is light so late and we eat dinner so late that bed time just doesn’t seem normal until much later…?
Anyway, class starts at 9:30 each day. My teachers name is Carmen and I am in a class with 5 other people of about my level of Spanish. This morning we worked on verbs having to do with hobbies and habits. Then at 11:00 we get a break to go get a snack or coffee or just relax for 30 minutes. We then ALL went back into one classroom (there are 10 students in total at the moment) and worked together which was cool because we had someone more experienced to help us. We did an activity where we watched a silent film and then had to describe it with a story in Spanish. After that we had a lesson on accents…omg so complicated….but it started to make since by the end. It was a good morning, I felt like I learned a lot and it didn’t feel like it dragged at all!
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We finished class at 1:30 and then I walked home and had lunch with my host family at about 2:45. (Both girls are done with school and home by then.) See below for a picture of where I am living:
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The patio with flowers belongs to my family.
I then retired to my room for a siesta! (Why don’t I live here? They literally set aside time for adult naps! Lol) So…I napped for about an hour and then got up to do the afternoon activity. (Basically every afternoon we have an activity planned.) Today our activity was tennis! Yay!
We met at the school at 6:30 (everything starts late in this country). Then we walked to the tennis complex (like a 30-minute walk lol). Everyone is dying in the heat- and don’t get me wrong, its hot- but being from New Mexico I’m feeling great! Haha  We were all given rackets and then a tennis coach came and did drills with us and then we played Queen/King of the Court! It was so fun!!!
There are also two more girls that showed up for the week. Konnie and Alannah. Konnie is from Korea and Alanna is from Ireland. They are both young 19 and 17 respectively and very sweet girls. I talked to Alanna on the long walk to the courts which was fun since I had just come from Ireland! (AJ!!! She has a brother going to Harvard next year, you could have met him! What a small world!)
After tennis we had to walk the two new girls back to the school (as they do not yet know their way around town and their host moms were picking them up there) and then the rest of us walked all the way up the hill again to the plaza and had drinks and tapas.
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"Uhhh...Sarah why weren't you in that picture?"
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After sitting there for a while we all walked back home (lots of walking which is good since all the food here is so good!). I got home about 10:45 and dinner was almost ready! Perfect timing. We all ate dinner in the living room today and watched Spain’s presidential debate!
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I already feel 10 times more comfortable with my abilities (to at least try) to speak Spanish. It’s like my fear of saying something wrong or getting stuck is going away! The previous knowledge I have is coming back with a vengeance haha! :) Most of the time I can recall the noun or verb I am looking for (very simple and only in present tense), but it is quite exhilarating! Already, after only being here for a few days I am feeling more comfortable with Spanish than I ever had. In class today, I could understand what the teacher was saying when teaching the lesson in Spanish! All of my previous knowledge is not lost in fact, I think it has had time to cement and I am so excited about being able to build on a solid foundation! Yay! I might actually make good progress in the next two weeks!
Also, look at cute Blanquita (the family dog)!
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Highlight of the Day: Hmm….so many! Feeling comfortable in my confidence with speaking skills, making new friends, playing tennis (and dominating btw) :)! I’m not sure it counts if I pick that many…lol but hey! I make the rules here right?

Food:
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Posted by sarahtravel12 04:48 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 3

Day Trip

sunny
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Today I was up by 8:30 before the rest of my host family. I had to get to the school by 9:30 for a day trip! It was my first time walking to the school on my own, and I made a few wrong turns, lol but I got there eventually! Once there I met up with the tour guide the bus driver and the rest of the group which consisted of Corry, Carl, Devan, and Tau (the North Carolina group). We all got on the van and after hearing a bit about what we would be doing for the day (in Spanish) we were off. The first place we stopped at was a little shack in the middle of nowhere…since the introduction was in Spanish I was thinking “What is this???”
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Turns out that little shack was the entrance to a mine! A second tour guide showed up and led us down in to the mine (cave basically). When we walked in it was immediately cold and a bat flew at us (if that helps set the scene lol). It was awesome! It was I believe a quartz mine- the material used to be mined and used to make windows because it is transparent. As we walked through the mine the second guide talked in Spanish then out guide would translate to easier Spanish, then we would all give her sad confused looks and she would repeat it in English lol. Basically there were a lot of “myths” surrounding the mine. Such as: a beautiful girl wandered down there got lost and now her ghost lives there, or that a man discovered the cave because he had a dream that told him to start digging in this specific spot.
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I really enjoyed it, but more-so enjoyed coming out of the cave into the warmth (haha they didn’t tell us to bring a jacket). After we were done there we got back into the van and drove to a monastery (Monasterio de Ucles). Before the monastery, we stopped at a bar (and when I say bar I mean café basically…it’s just what they are called). Some people got drinks and snacks (tapas) and our guide talked to us about the cathedral in Spanish. However, once we arrived at the monastery, we were all given phone type things that talked to us in English about everything! It was very interesting and the cathedral was incredibly beautiful! This building was a monastery, turned into a school, then hospital, then prison…so it has lots of history!
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After our time at the monastery we went to lunch at a cute little place. We had a three course meal! (Well, I had 2 appetizers because they are not super vegetarian friendly in this country, but it was delicious and plenty of food!) In the restaurant there were two tables filled with old men playing some type of poker and it was hilarious!
When we finished lunch we headed another place for the main event.
On a side note, I think each of these places were about half an hour to an hour away from one another…but with being sick and traveling so much I am wiped out so basically as soon as the car started every time I feel asleep until we got to the next destination lol.
The main even was: Segobrga ciudad celtiberica y romana. Basically old roman ruins from when roman people came over to Spain a long time ago! We started off in a museum with old artifacts and then watched a video on the history. The video was in Spanish, but it was great because there were accompanying pictures so it made it easier to follow along! We then set off for the ruins. There was an old amphitheatre type thing, and a smaller version of the Colosseum, and a bathing area, and an old church. It was pretty amazing to see! Roman architecture always amazes me! Rome is by far my favorite place I have ever been so this kind of took me back which was great! To set the mood it was VERY warm outside today so walking the 15 minutes to the ruins and back was…great exercise…but the windows open in the moving car was pretty wonderful after. :)
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Once we got back to the school (magically it seemed…sleep does that lol) we got out and walked back home. I was feeling pretty sick by this time (I can’t wait to get over this cold), so when I got home I jumped in the shower which helped a lot. The rest of the night I just relaxed! We ate dinner about 11pm again…so weird! But I got through a pretty good conversation tonight over dinner with the family which was very rewarding! Can’t wait for class tomorrow!

Highlight of the Day: Talking to the family over diner and being able to somewhat understand and respond to the conversation!

Food:
Also just assume some type of fruit for breakfast lol!
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Posted by sarahtravel12 05:35 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 2

Day with Family/Rest

sunny
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The culture shock is already starting to wear off which is wonderful. I woke up around 10:00 this morning and just lazed around for a while! (Much needed :) ) Luckily my host family gave me space to just do that. My voice (that I totally lost last night) was back this morning- grumbly, but sound was coming out! Around noonish my host mom and Jimena (younger sister) asked if I wanted to go to the store with them. I said sure so we set off with Blanquito (their puppy) and walked to the grocery store. The store (pictured below) was full of fresh goods and all my host mom had to do was tell and employee what she wanted and they went around and got the items and filled the cart.
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Much different than Walmart haha! Then we walked back and Rosa started making comeda (late lunch). Here they eat two small breakfasts, a huge lunch sometime between 2 and 4 in the afternoon (called comeda-which yes means food also), and then a smallish late dinner (like around 10 or 11 at night). After we ate lunch today I went out with one of the other students. The original plan was to go to a museum with a bug group of people but that fell through so Carl walked me around the city and helped me familiarize myself which was great! We also got ice cream!
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Once back home, Jimena asked me if I wanted to go on another walk (or so I thought), turns out her mom and dad came too and we got in a car…lol language barrier is real… Anyway we went across town and picked up Rosa’s (my host mom) aunt (88 years old with Alzheimer’s) and took her with us to a local bar where more family worked. We sat down and ordered drinks (bars here don’t just serve alcoholic drinks). Any time you order drinks of any kind here they give you Tapas (little snacks) as long as you sit there. This particular place had a foosball table and I asked Jimena if she wanted to play instead of listen to the adults talk. She gladly agreed and we played foosball for about an hour!
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Haha she is funny, has a great cheerful outgoing personality and I got to know her better. She is actually quite attached to me now. As when we got home she pulled me with her everywhere and showed me everything and then sat next to me (leaning on my shoulder) while we watched Big Bang Theory in Spanish!
We all ate dinner out on the patio and it was beautiful! I also got through some conversations with the family where I understood what was going on. Much thanks to Sophia who speaks English pretty well and helped me through it. As a result, I feel like Sophia and I bonded too. My host Dad is…. definitely a Dad, he had common dad jokes and loves his girls. I like him a lot! He speaks almost no English but is extremely patient with me. I have a wonderful family and I already am starting to feel closer to them and less stressed about the language barrier! Hopefully I will get better and better at Spanish as the next two weeks pass!

Highlight of the Day: Playing foosball with Jimena and not worrying about the language barrier because laughter is universal!

Food:

  • **Opps need to get better at remembering to take pictures! I've been slacking!

Posted by sarahtravel12 05:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 1

Travel

sunny
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Today began at 3:00am for me.
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During the night I had a nightmare that I slept through my alarm and didn’t make my plane, so as soon as the alarm went off I was out of bed! I had to be as quite as possible since there were still other people sleeping in my room. I jumped out of bed and got ready quickly. My airport shuttle picked me up at 3:20.
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We got to the airport about 3:45 and I was up and through security with my bag checked by 4:15. My plane didn’t take off until 6:15 so I had lots of time just sitting around. Once on the plane the trip was about 2 hours. I slept on and off during this flight. Once off the flight is where my crazy day began. From this point on Spanish is the main form of communication in my day… My first task was to find and get to terminal D at the airport. Not a hard task generally, but with an extreme language barrier it was not very easy. But I got there! Once in terminal D, I found the metro station (attached). Here, I had to buy a ticket for the correct metro! I tried my hope and wish that it’s simple method and went to the automated ticket purchase machine and found my hope and wish method doesn’t work so well in a foreign language. So I went and found a map of the metro lines and found the name of the station that I needed to get to. (Thanks to my wonderful Mom for looking this up for me in advance :))
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So I got onto the metro and then switched lines and got to my stop---where the bus station was located. At the bus station I had to buy a ticket (the bus for Cuenca, Spain left at 12:00 and I arrived at the station at 11:55…so sadly I missed that bus and had to wait for the one that left at 14:30 (2:30) But that was okay though because it gave me a moment to orient myself and eat lunch. I had to contact my program director and tell her I was going to be later than I thought. That was on ordeal just to figure out how to use the pay phone. Haha I don’t think I’ve every even used one in English. But I figured it out and then found wonderful wifi (it’s pronounced “we-fee” here) at a little shop that had delicious frozen drinks!
My bus left at 2:30 and about 2:10 I started looking for my platform (platform 3)… I should have started earlier because it took me a while to find and I cut it close! I did make it though and the bus ride to Cuenca, Spain from Madrid was about 2 and a half hours. They drive on the “correct” side of the road here  but the country side looks much like Ireland did, vast and green- just not as many livestock dotting the hills.
My host mom met me at the bus stop once I got there- probably not too hard for her to tell it was me as I was practically the only one with light hair lol. I fit in perfectly in Ireland…here not so much, I stand out quite a bit…
She helped me get my luggage to her car and we drove back to the house. This town is built on the sides of two valleys. (This is the river that runs down the valley).
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Therefore, the buildings grow up not across generally. Most homes (that I have seen so far) are apartment style flats. They live in a nice complex (4F). The house is nice it is a 4-bedroom 2-bathroom house with a living room, patio, and kitchen. I have my own room and am sharing a bathroom with the two girls (Sophia 16 and Jimena 13). I also have Wi-Fi in my room this time which is exciting to me!
Once we got home we attempted communication for a while. My host mom understands and speaks quite a bit of English I figured out, but won’t allow me to speak to her in it haha. She kept telling me something about other students doing something at 8:00 that night but that if I was tired I didn’t have to go (at least I think that’s what she said). I was tired and kinda hungry (I also figured out they don’t eat dinner normally until 11:00pm here) and I was feeling kinda weird. The same type of feeling I had in Costa Rica when I was dropped with my host family—except here I am totally alone. It is lonely to not be able to speak freely to the people you are living with. So I made the decision that I needed to force myself to go out and meet other students because it might make me feel better. My host dad got home and I had a very awkward moment. So here…apparently the way to greet someone is to do the two kisses on each cheek thing (I was not told this ahead of time) so when he got close I thought it was for a hug- very common in America… Haha it turned out to be really weird and I was told for quite a while how kisses are the proper way to great someone and hugs are NOT. Lol…whoops…cultural differences, here we go...
They drove me to the school next and dropped me off with the other students gathering there with a set of about 10 keys on a chain and a quick the house is that way (they point) you can make it back, it’s easy! …They are obviously unaware of my intense lack of directional skills… Anyway they left and I walked up to the students. They spoke English and were normal American students (and instantly my spirits lifted). One of them (Liz) is actually an NMSU student! The rest of them are part of a teacher led student group from North Carolina. (Similar to how I traveled in Costa Rica). Half of the group leaves tomorrow and the other half stays for another 2 weeks. So last night was sort of a celebration/ goodbye for them. We went for Tapas night- meaning basically we went to a strip and a whole bunch of different bars brought us drinks and food. It was free to me, and I believe any activities this big group does I will be included in so that is good! We had fun and I talked to the program director about how I was supposed to get home. She said Brooke lived close to me so I should just follow her home. Well, after the bars we ended up going back to Bobbies’ (one of the teachers or something) house for a small party. I was tired, but didn’t want to pull Brooke away on her last night out so… The party was so American lol, beer pong, drinking, chips, lol…I came all the way to Spain to be back in America… Anyway around 2:00ish I talked Brooke into leaving and she helped me find my house. I then had to go through all of the keys to get into the front of the building, then again to get into the house. I was super exhausted…I was up for 24 hours straight… I also lost my voice at some point during the night because of my cold, and literally can barely get sound to come out of my mouth.
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Despite all of this, I am happy to be here and I am sure I will get more comfortable with my host family as time goes on and I think I will really enjoy hanging out with the other students during the day (although I think I’ll bow out before a late night party like that again).

Highlight of the Day:
Walking up to a group of American students and speaking English for the first time in a day that was full of stressful, completely alone, necessary communication with strangers in a different language. It’s amazing how good it felt to speak English for a little while in a friendly environment.

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Food:
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Posted by sarahtravel12 02:59 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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